Home Page Works Series 1-Quest To Be Whole Album 1-Predator Song
Prior Description Song 6 DESCRIPTION - Sky of Smoke Next Description
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This song is about the Holocaust, with smoke as the unifying symbol.

A central image here is that the smoke over our heads cuts off our view of the heavens.

Verse 2 is smoke from a father's pipe in the peace of the home.
Verse 3 is smoke from military industrial chimneys.
Verse 4 is smoke from houses set afire by wartime bombing.
Verse 5 is smoke from the trains carrying people to the death camps.
Verse 6 is smoke from the death camp's crematoriums.

The bridge is the smoke of God's glory filling the Earth as it filled the temple in Isaiah's vision. I find it fitting to use the image seen by a Jew acquainted with great oppression. The bridge also references the many instances of smoke in Revelation.

Verse 2 is set within those soon-to-be-confiscated homes.  The smoke is a symbol of tranquility. But the evil is foreshadowed in "wreath", as in funeral wreath, and in "Broken Glass", which refers to the Kristallnacht, when the terror began it's open swaggering.

Verse 3 moves outside, but even the dew is polluted by the machinery of war, and the greatest horrors of that machinery are yet to come. Here the smoke above the children's heads is ominous where the pipe's was peaceful. Again the evil is foreshadowed in "shrouding", as in burial shroud.

In verse 4, that peace is set aflame. Open warfare brings its host of atrocities, yet still the worst is to come.

"Converted cash" is an odd line, but one of the fundamental aspects of war is that someone's resources have been turned into death tools, causing these people to share in at least some of the battle's consequences. In the case of Nazi Germany, the tale of the arming of a nation that scant years before had to wheelbarrow in the cash to buy a loaf of bread is highly interesting, but more than a bit beyond the scope of this site.

"Dark release" is the trait of billowing smoke turning black when hit by a bright light as an image of an evil transformation, like that of the cash, of people's homes into byproducts of war.

"Houses burning peace" is the fuel of their burning being more precious than money, and the visible sign that peace had been taken from the land so that carnage may stalk the streets in its place.

Verse 5, hopefully, makes this 'puzzle' song's topic clear. The train's cattle cars were filled with people.

The "stars" identified those people and their animal status.

"Locomotive exhaust" is the smoke making "trails" to the scenes of the Holocaust. I imagine seeing down from a height where these bending plumes traced converging lines across the land to the centers of depravity.

Verse 6 stands at ground zero of the Final Solution and watches the funeral pall drift "Over the gates and beyond the wall," a desperately sad escape from confinement. It also plays on the word 'appall' as the smoke carried aloft the horrific message of undisguised evil. Clearly, such malignancy can have no place in the Kingdom of light and peace.

"How long will You wait" is the cry of the saints under the altar.

In the bridge, the symbol of the smoke moves from the past into the future. This future is the end of time. Several images are interlaced here. One is the smoke of God's glory filling the Earth as it filled the temple in the vision of Isaiah and like that of John, where the temple is filled with the smoke of God's glory during the plagues of the seven vials.

The counterpoint to God's glory is His wrath and revenge, as seen in a group of smoke and fire images from Revelation:

After the seventh seal is opened, seven angels are given trumpets. Another angel with a gold censer burns incense on the altar, and the smoke rises with the prayers of the saints before God. Then the angel puts fire from the altar into the censer and casts it to Earth. This signals the sounding of the trumpets. (Revelation 8:3-5)

The first trumpet calls forth hail and fire mingled with blood. (Revelation 8:7)

The second trumpet calls forth a burning mountain that turns the seas to blood. (Revelation 8:8-9)

The third trumpet calls forth a burning star that turns the fresh waters to wormwood. (Revelation 8:10-11)

The fifth trumpet calls forth the opening of the bottomless pit, from which pours smoke containing locust. The torment of these locust makes people long for death, but they will instead "see death forsake them". (Revelation 9:1-6)

The sixth trumpet calls forth the 200 million horseman army that kills a third of Earth's population by fire, smoke and brimstone from the horses' mouths. (Revelation 9:13-18)

(you might ask yourself who could field such an army)

There is the smoke of the torment of the damned. (Revelation 14:11)

There is the smoke of the destruction of Babylon. (Revelation 18:18 and 19:3)

Fire destroys the armies of the world after the thousand years. (Revelation 20:9)

"Essence will change" is that the smoke of man's wrath against God's chosen people will change to the smoke of God's wrath upon mankind.

Something else that need be said is that the Church does not stand without blood on Her hands regarding the lives consumed in that flame of hate. Oh! That we would learn how much silence can cost!

The Holocaust serves to represent the dregs of predatory nature. Here hatred is taken to the extreme of extermination. The depths are highlighted by the fact that war material that could have been used to defend Germany was diverted to the camp system. This hatred was so deep it even overrode the most obvious level of self interest, namely self preservation.

The Holocaust should serve as a most chilling reminder of human nature. The effort to revise history into making it a unique anomaly is as utterly disingenuous as those foolish people who maintain it never happened. The whole person understands that the seeds of even this level of evil are lodged inside everyone. This in no way makes light of the evil done. Rather, it shows how thin is our civilized veneer.

There are those who ask why someone would want to know about such disgusting events. The answer is that ignorance is no defense against anything. This attitude is why the lyrics of this band, and in particular those of the initial albums, are so hard edged. Most people walk their life through without facing the hard facts. To be whole, a person must be able to know the truth yet not be consumed by that truth.

A child is ignorant of what is actually going on in the world. They accumulate experience and knowledge as they mature. One day this accumulation reaches 'critical mass', their understanding ignites, and they become an adult. This new adult sees the world is far more complex, and vicious, than they'd ever imagined. It is at this point that the first great crossroad appears. Do they press on into the terror of learning more, or do they run back into the comfort of the familiar, the routine, the womb? A great many flee the light to live out their days in a limbo, no longer child yet never adult though they forge careers and raise families and discuss politics. The seed of the whole person never germinates.

Those who continue the journey, who choose to face reality, now confront the gift of Adam. The knowledge of evil. Understand. Adam walked in Eden with God. He already knew Good. What he acquired from the Fruit was knowledge of evil, which is a terror. Anyone who says it is not a terror to them does not know evil. The Holocaust was evil dancing naked before the flames of Hell. The mature look, that they might recognize this creature when clothed in a suit and speaking pleasant sounding words.

It may seem to some people overblown to speak of truth as a terror that can destroy people. My response is that such an opinion is in itself a retreat from truth. Truth holds pestilence, famine, grave worm, insanity, war, torture and the Holocaust as well as lovely sunsets, good food, health, family, technological marvels, safety and art. To ignore the unpleasant half is to live in illusion, but to hold the fire of evil close to the heart is to be consumed. For those of you who doubt filling one's vision with evil destroys, I have one word: suicide.

The whole person lives and learns in spite of evil instead of by pretending evil does not exist. Again, the key to being whole is to know truth yet not be destroyed. Then a person is ready to take the seed of maturity that sprouted when they chose not to run away from truth and nurture it into full growth. This full growth is centered entirely on Jesus and the Redemption. We've gotten ahead of ourselves a bit, because this theme is central to the second album in the series, Deep.

To speak on a less encompassing basis, the need for history is to ask how a person can be a responsible member of society if they have no historic basis from which to understand the likely consequences of a current issue. If you forget Hitler was popular, how can you hold our poll-driven political process up to the critical scrutiny it deserves? The ideal of a democracy was tempered by the Founding Fathers into a republic precisely because they knew popularity in itself does not equal good. Hitler just happens to be an outstanding example of the truth of the Founder's ideology. Without a knowledge of such historic examples, ideology seems mere theory.

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